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The Smile


When a smile-shaped cloud seemingly follows him wherever he goes, a reporter recently back from an assignment in Tibet shares his paranoid fear with his estranged ex-wife. He is convinced the cloud is stalking him with malevolent intentions.



Air Dates

  • First Run - November 23, 1982
  • (No Repeat) - January 1, 1970





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15 Responses to Episode 1395

"The Smile" was one of the most up-to-date episodes of Mystery Theater. Parallel universes are what came to mind when I listened to this episode. 4 stars.

Davy Joe

Up to date? Bear in mind that one of pop culture's most famous examples of parallel universes was Star Trek's Mirror Mirror and that aired well over a decade earlier. Plus every commenter here compares this series to The Twilight Zone and you know they did parallel universes even earlier.

Commodore's watch

A very excellent show. The characters were well done. A little eerie too!

Jay Man

Definitely one of my very favorite ones. The actors are excellent, and it's just eerie enough to keep you entertained.

Doug Person

I rate this episode ★★★☆☆ for AVERAGE. I give G. Frederick Lewis credit for writing a Drama-Mystery with a pinch of fantasy in the mix. Everything was going smoothly in ACT-1 and in ACT-2. But for ACT-3, it felt like the story went off course. Just like Ep. #1395-PORTRAIT OF THE PAST, things took a turn in the final Act and the mystery itself, the best way I can describe it, went “topsy-turvy.” And since the smile-shaped cloud in this story was so terrifying to the characters, a better title would be “The Lingering Smile.” Tammy Grimes did an OK job as Host. Not tremendous, nor appalling, just so-so. In her Prologue, she brings up the topic: Mysterious Happenings and what are the reasons, the causes, the whys, and the wherefores that they are here (and 1 mysterious happening that I would like to know, is why Tammy Grimes got to be picked to be the Host instead of picking Mercedes McCambridge or Morgan Fairchild or any other actress in this series). In ACT-1, she brings us into the story, explaining the details of the first scene involving a telegram. In ACT-2, she gives us the summary of the previous Act. At the end of the Act, she questions us on who are the duplicates that our main characters saw and what does it have to do with the smile in the sky. At the end of ACT-3, she talks about people getting a second chance in life and there is a smile-shaped cloud somewhere in the world. No Epilogue because the recording was cut short. If E.G. Marshall did this CBSRMT episode, I bet he would’ve used quotations from famous writers and he would explain this tale more poetically and more methodically. The sound effects of holding the telegram, the boat engine running, sea gulls, buoy, wind blowing by the lighthouse, pulling the cables, high winds by the whirlpool, rowing of the oars, and pouring of the coffee were effective. But the music was frighteningly good! ACT-1 had themes of serenity, then switch to melancholy, then to dark & eerie tracks that caused fear to rise. ACT-2 had tracks to feel like death is closing in on our characters. ACT-3 had the haunting melody that they used in Ep. #1245-THE JUDGE’S HOUSE, and then played tracks to ease down the suspense to bring in a pleasing ending. Excellent music tunes. And speaking of excellence, our cast: Tony Roberts (as Bill Van Church: the writer), Marian Seldes (as Grace Van Church: the music teacher), and Fred Gwynne (as Wilbur Van Church: the uncle). SPECIAL NOTE: Himan Brown plays the Doctor. Tony Roberts reminds me of Larry Haines for playing characters that are filled with paranoia. Marian Seldes is so talented for playing characters that are kind-hearted and deeply concerned for others. And it’s always a pleasure to hear Fred Gwynne, no matter what character he plays. Tune in to this mysterious tale if you wish to see how it ends. And check out the other CBSRMT episodes that involve Smiles, such as Ep. #0200-BERENICE (by Edgar Allan Poe) and Ep. #1333-WHY IS THIS LADY SMILING? (Mona Lisa & Leonardo Da Vinci). Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0]


While I love the plot and idea of the concept of the smile in this story I feel it was executed just so so... It has text quality of leaving much to your imagination and t what the heck was it, was it really hurting the character bt "sucking the life out of hime?" Why was it doing this? etc.... Enjoyed it but I agree with Russell was not the best. I give it a good rating. Check it out.


"The Smile" is my favorite.


Love this one, though the ending feels rushed and kind of half-baked. The character development is absolutely top-notch (a man and wife separated for a bunch of years, and he reaches out to her when he thinks he is dying. Very enlightened). def in my top ten list.

Douggie Doolittle

Russell, speaking about Tammy Grimes, my thought listening to this episode was, 'could they have found another narrator / host less excited or with any less enthusiasm about what she is speaking as Tammy Grimes?' Listening to her delivery reminded me of someone just woken up out of a deep sleep. "Why did you have to wake me up? I want to sleep. So are you saying if I say these words here, you'll let me go back to sleep?" That is what she sounded like. It is not surprising that whoever recorded this tape stopped it as the commercial started because they couldn't care less what Tammy Grimes' final thoughts were.


It's foolish to cut off the host at the end because sometimes they add an additional postscript to the ending, which explains what happened to the characters later.


OMG! This is unintentionally hilarious! It's a comedy episode about a "smile" that follows a man from Tibet, lolol! (Why Tibet, lol? Is that supposed to somehow make it more mysterious?) I can't stop laughing my way all the way through this episode, lol! I know it's not supposed to be funny, but the idea of a smile that follows someone around the world strikes me funny for some reason. I simply can't take it seriously.


Well, actually I stopped laughing at some point and just got TERRIBLY bored. This is one of the worst episodes ever, lol!


Well, maybe it wasn't one of the *worst * ever. it is much better than the top ten worst ones, lol! I think the "smile" might have been a portal to a parallel world. Perhaps it harmed him because the vortex created by the "pull" of this dimensional hole was pulling on him and causing stress on his body. Marian Seldes is hammier than usual. (And why are the voices running too deep? It sounds weird.) I noticed that Hi Brown makes another cameo appearance as the doctor. :)


Interesting show about a man pursued my a malevolent smile sucking his life away. I enjoyed the acting and the story.

Kathy D

This episode reminded me of the Doctor Who season in which a crack in time kept following the Doctor in each episode. Kind of looked like a smile to me so I used that visual for this episode. Good story.


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